As the second successful Good Life (GLX) Accelerator programme draws to a close, the founders of the ten selected companies come together in sharing their life-changing experiences in this intensive 12-week programme. BusSeat, Good Folks, Local Forecast, Mindful Travels, Moonshadow Naturals, Olai, Owita Organics, RAW, Sebastco and Wawamu are the ten companies who realised their goals in reaching the next level in sustainability driven innovative enterprises.
The value-added benefits received through the programme helped the startups to achieve this through guiding them in refining their products, getting exposure, building important relationships, and connecting to vibrant international networks. The critical mentorship, expertise, and advice provided by the mentors were designed to help them gear up to scale and gain knowledge to leverage and refine the future of their businesses.
The finale of the programme, the Demo Day, where startups showcase their companies to an audience of investors, industry, policymakers etc., is scheduled to take place virtually early next month. Interested audience can access the event by registering through https://bit.ly/GLXDDay2020. In the midst of preparation for Demo Day, the founders were glad to offer rich insights on the benefits, and what they gained most from the programme.
Focus, focus, focus
A distinct feature of the programme was to challenge and motivate the founders on refining their focus on specific goals and objectives. Dinesh, Co-founder of Good Folks, stated, “GLX helped us understand who we should be and what we can be.” These sentiments were reinforced by Shiran, the founder of Sebastco, who noted that they were able “to narrow down our focus, think about our brand and focus on our authentic storyline, helping us further develop product growth and revenue”.
A key component of the GLX Accelerator programme towards building the startups progress, is mentoring support. For this cohort, the programme partnered with ESCP Business School, one of the most sought after business schools in Europe, to help the companies gain expert guidance and fresh perspectives. Commenting on the startups journey during the programme, Peter Borchers, Co-founder and lecturer of U-School, the Entrepreneurial Leadership Programme (ESCP) said, “All GLX teams took the programme very seriously, working hard on themselves and their companies. They are now super-equipped for the challenges lying ahead and have increased their chance of success significantly.”
“All the groundwork by the fantastic team of GLX and GIZ and the clearly visible success of the first two cohorts has laid a perfect basis for generating a trove of new impactful businesses in the future. GLX is prone to become the backbone of ‘good business’ in Sri Lanka and across South Asia,” Borchers added.
The founders echoed these sentiments as they expressed their enthusiasm in being mentored by experienced, internationally acclaimed mentors. Sheshan, founder of Wawamu, observed that the mentors, “helped us on many aspects; refining our business model and guiding us through each phase of the programme, and to find synergies with other companies.”
Through this, startups such as BusSeat and Moonshadow Naturals were able to tap into richer insights. “Mentoring has helped us learn new tools for different aspects of our business. It was also helpful to have contact with mentors with such vast experiences, but who also understood the challenges of being a startup.”
Growing with grants
Funding is an essential part of any startup journey, and it is often difficult to know where to begin. As recipients of grants in the form of services and procurement, the founders were able to set a platform crucial for longevity and growth of their companies. Joining the GLX accelerator programme and setting this platform provided the companies a better chance of accomplishing their mission. As Shiran of Sebastco noted, “Getting a grant (which was unexpected when I signed up), helped us to take the next step/risk in building our business.”
A cool network
Acquiring a network of people, especially gaining access to talk to the right person at the right time, matters when scaling a business. Ronali, founder of RAW, expressed that “the programme expanded my network, and I was able to focus and plan on what was most important.” “Through the GLX programme, we were introduced to many international and local experts to gain more knowledge and experience about our ongoing business to scale it up,” also stated Vihangun, founder of Owita Organics. While Yathusha of Olai added, “I was able to expand my network by connecting with the other participants.”
Support to shine
The GLX programme provided invaluable support for the startups, creating a positive space to accomplish their goals. The founders agreed, as Good Folks stated, “The continuous support opened doors that small companies like us can only dream of. These elements were a tremendous boost for our business.” The appreciation for the collaboration and assistance received from the GLX team throughout the programme was reinforced by Amar, founder of Mindful PVT Ltd. who noted, “First time founders need this support to grow their businesses because starting a company is very hard, any sort of help goes a long way.”
The GLX Accelerator programme, is initiated by the GIZ SME Sector Development Program (on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development), aims to foster ethical and sustainable business ideas, by providing selected post-revenue startups in the Food, Travel, Wellness and Design sectors, guidance, training, networking opportunities, and other valuable resources via a rich curriculum of activities, specifically designed to help the entrepreneurs refine and scale up to the next level.